Friday, May 1, 2015

Everyday life in my Memory Palace

I went ahead and moved into my Memory Palace.  Figured why not?  At least I know where everything is there. 

It started with a plan to “Keep [my] Memory and Thinking Sharp with These 20 Everyday Activities” I read about that have been linked to reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

MCI includes problems with memory, planning, language and attention which we are most ardently trying to avoid even though they are relatively subtle in comparison to dementia, which of course, we also eschew.

OK.  Good.  “Everyday” implies easy, routine, middle-of-the-road kinds of things that even the average schmo can work into her daily habits.  And, with any luck at all, she’s already doing them, thereby accounting for her sparkling presence in the household and around town.  

Feeling confident. 

Heck, I can probably do all 20 with little to no exertion!  I especially appreciate that considering I’m a founding member of the Lethargy for Procrastinators club.  Meetings whenever.

And, even though I am quite sharp already in the memory and thinking departments, as you now doubt have observed, I figured, why not go ahead and zip through some everyday activities that might further sharpen my considerable wit and hone my laser-like focus?

I mean, I can’t remember the last time I lost my car keys, or my car.  Really.  I can’t remember. 

I haven’t raced into a room only to stop short with a quizzical look in gosh knows how long.  But still. 

Here we go:

According to PsyBlog, new research published in the journal Neurology suggests that regularly engaging in arts and crafts, socializing and computer use during middle age may help preserve memory in later years. 

Hooray!  This is a perfect time for me to get started as I am middle-aged.  Exactly in the middle, in fact, presuming my life expectancy is 128.    

Yeah, that’s about right because the study asked 256 “seniors” (the new code word for middle-aged; 60 is the new 40, after all!) to report how often they took part in various everyday activities

Now get this:  At the start of the study none of the participants had memory or thinking problems.  Four years later, less than half of these everyday folks had developed MCI. 

I compared myself on the list of activities they participated in routinely that saved their brains:

Artistic activities including:  Drawing, sculpting, or painting.  Nope, no and uh uhn.

Crafts including:  Pottery, quilting, woodworking, ceramics, quilling and sewing.  Negatory down the line. 

But hey…  What is ‘quilling,’ anyway?  Who ‘quills’?  Benjamin Franklin?!

At first I thought they had repeated ‘quilting’!  Hahaha!  In a memory exercise!  They forgot they already said ‘quilting’ earlier in the same sentence! 

But of course it wasn’t quilting twice.  One of the ‘everyday’ activities is actually quilling.  It’s entirely different.  I looked it up.

Socializing included:  Socializing with friends, trips to the movies, theatre or concerts, book clubs and travel.

At last!  Activities that come naturally for normal people!  These are the very pastimes I suspected were doing me the most good.  I plan to redouble my movie-watching efforts.

But wait!  Using the computer can enhance a person’s memory and thinking too!?

Hallelujah!  Conducting web searches, online purchases (!), using the internet and computer games are all good for the noodle!  We’re having pasta tonight!

Finding myself already in the upper echelon of mental acuity, with excellent prospects for my dotage, I never-the-less pursued one more strategy for memory enhancement:  The construction of a Memory Palace.

This is a mnemonic device in which a person places objects she wants to recall in strategic locations around an imaginary palace she builds in her mind.  Easy peasy!  I’ve been constructing castles in the sky since I first read Cinderella!

Then, when this princess needs to remember the items on the list, or better still, when she wants to relive the care-free, youthful, skinny times associated with those objects, she simply closes her eyes and takes a tour of the palace!

It’s like Beach Front BargainHunt and the budget is unlimited! 

So I’ve built my imaginary Memory Palace and I’m thinking I’ll just live in it.  After all, it’s where I do my best work:  watching movies, socializing, making online purchases and of course, quilling.